Bathrooms Are Not Separate-But-Equal

From The New Republic:

A Maine court case signals the next frontier of civil rights: transgender equality.

June 12, 2013

Where should a transgender schoolgirl be allowed to pee? To some, this may sound like a minor, insignificant question, but not to Nicole Maines, a 15-year-old transgender girl who attended Maine public schools. Born a boy biologically, Maines now self-identifies as a girl, dressing in girls’ clothing and sporting a typical 15-year-old girl’s hair and makeup. In addition to the harassment she faced from other kids, Maines also met intolerance by school officials, who refused to allow her to use the girls’ bathroom. Instead, in a remarkably insensitive decision, the school required her to use a staff bathroom after a grandparent of a male student complained that Maines shouldn’t be allowed in the little girls’ room.

Maines’ parents took her out of the school and sued the school, claiming their daughter’s potty segregation was a violation of Maine’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people on the basis of their gender identity. While Maine’s Human Rights Commission held that the transgender girl was entitled to use the girls’ bathroom, a state court judge disagreed. Maine’s Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear her case, the latest evidence that the next frontier of the civil-rights movement is transgender and transsexual equality.

We often talk about “LGBT rights,” but many of the reforms to date, like civil unions and marriage equality, are primarily benefiting the Ls and the Gs (and, by extension, the Bs). The legal issues surrounding full acceptance of trans-people are likely to be messier and more confusing—and bathrooms are proving a familiar flashpoint. In Colorado, for instance, the parents of a 6-year-old girl have challenged their local school district’s refusal to permit their daughter to use the girls’ room because, biologically, the girl was born a boy and retains male genitalia. School authorities said she can use any other bathroom in the school—the boys’ bathroom, the staff bathroom, or the one in the nurse’s office—just not the one for girls. In Arizona, lawmakers have been considering a bill to prohibit transgender people from using the biologically “wrong” bathroom. The Philadelphia City Council may go the other way, by requiring new city-owned buildings to include gender-neutral bathrooms.

Restrooms are one of the last explicit vestiges of segregation on the basis of sex. In a nation evolved enough to allow women to serve in combat and have women on the presidential ticket, we still maintain strict and outdated rules that discriminate in who can use which restroom. Even at liberal law schools like UCLA, where I teach, the bathrooms are all clearly marked for gender uses in a way that no one would accept for race: there are rooms labeled specifically for men and others specifically for women.

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Focus On The Family: Transgender Young People Don’t Exist In ‘Physical Reality’

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Jun 17, 2013

Numerous conservative groups are concerned about a bill (AB 1266) advancing in the California legislature that would recognize transgender young people’s identities in school, allowing them to use the facilities and play on the sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. Focus on the Family’s resident ex-gay Jeff Johnston lashed out at the bill, claiming that trans identities only exist in a “fantasy reality”:

The reality is that humans are born male or female. At birth we don’t “assign” sex to a child arbitrarily, as the analysis of this bill implies. We recognize the child’s sex – it is a physical reality. But in the world of this bill, that reality doesn’t matter. Like Cinderella in a fantasy world, a person may choose or change his sex, saying, “I can be whatever I want to be.”

But trans identities have nothing to do with who a person “wants to be”; it’s about who a person is. And sometimes, people’s mental understanding of their gender identity does not match the sex of the body they were born into. Denying the reality of their lived experience only serves to shame and stigmatize them, but won’t change their core identity.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, an anti-LGBT hate group, argues that the “idea of socially constructed gender is very radical” and “not safe for the kids,” but there is no evidence to support his aspersions. In fact, the American Psychological Association recommends the passage of nondiscrimination protections like this California bill and any effort to recognize and affirm transgender people. It is that affirmation that best serves their mental well-being, not condemnation and erasure like these conservative groups propose.

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The Canary in the Coal Mine

From Huffington Post:


Last week was a roller coaster of emotions related to transgender issues for me. First, the announcement that the Social Security Administration will be changing the rules for altering your gender marker in their records is a giant administrative step forward. It does leave some giant questions about how the IRS will handle the influx of same-sex marriages in states without marriage equality, but it does not diminish the enormity of this advance.

The other big news was the release of the Pew study on LGBT people. It contained a ton of data, which people are still parsing through. However, when I read it from the perspective of a transgender person, I focused on things that the rest of the media hasn’t seemed to pick up on.

The study mostly ignored trans people, because it couldn’t get a significant sample size. Once again, data on transgender people was not captured, and as a result, trans activists are working in a data-poor environment. We can’t make good decisions in the absence of information. Specifically, we need to determine how to deal with the rest of the data in this survey, which paints an extremely negative picture of the battlespace as it stands for transgender people.

First, it showed that LGB people are somewhat better educated than the public at large but earn somewhat less. However, a previous NCTE study showed that the gap was even worse for the trans community. Trans people are, on average, a lot more educated but earn a lot less. Equal employment opportunity protections are the most important issue to LGBT people, ahead of even marriage. This should serve as a hint to the administration and Congress as to what’s really important to the community.

However, for transgender people, getting employment protections passed is proving maddeningly difficult, even in some Democrat-friendly states like New York. Four states have enacted marriage equality without providing workplace protections for transgender workers. While Delaware is on the verge of passing gender identity-based protections, states like Tennessee, Louisiana, and Idaho are going in the opposite direction, with state governments trying to nullify local ordinances.

This inability to gain protections for gender identity has a lot to do with public perceptions of transgender people. LGBT people feel that there is some to a lot of acceptance of bisexual women (78 percent), lesbians (85 percent), gay men (71 percent), and bisexual men (52 percent). Conversely 80 percent of LGB people said there is little to no acceptance of transgender people, and only 18 percent felt that there is some to a lot of acceptance. This gap should be a wakeup call in itself.

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Transgender city council candidate could become a first in NYC

From LGBTQNation:

Associated Press
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NEW YORK — If Mel Wymore wins a New York City council seat in the upcoming election, he would be the first openly transgender person elected to public office in America’s biggest city and one of only a handful ever in the U.S.

His campaign is neither emphasizing his personal story nor sidestepping it.

“I want to create the inclusive community, and it goes beyond my personal identity,” said Wymore, 51. “But it actually lends a lot to my story and my credibility as a candidate. I’m honest, I’m brave, I’m forthright, and I’m willing to stand up for change.”

Nationwide, at least five transgender people have won city, school board and judicial elections, including Mayor Stu Rasmussen in Silverton, Oregon. Perhaps dozens of others have run across the country.

They are bringing more attention to an issue that’s increasingly seen as a new frontier in rights debates. Recent local conflicts in the U.S. have involved the use of restrooms by transgender people, for example.

Wymore, a Democrat and systems engineer who has raised two children, had a happy childhood as Melanie Wymore. But the “exuberance” from childhood slipped away around puberty. At 35, Wymore reached a conclusion about why – and came out as a lesbian.

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Father’s Day as a Transgender Man

From Huffington Post:


I awake when the hotel door swings open. The sound of little feet padding past my bed tells me that the kids have returned with their mother. How did these two little ones manage to awaken, dress and leave the room without me noticing? Their entrances and exits are customarily boisterous, something that I can delight in as a visitor to this family but which eventually draws a strained look from their parents.

I can feign sleep no longer. I place my glasses on my face just in time to watch my friend Ezekiel’s son launch himself onto his father’s bed. His sister quickly follows suit. They are fairly bursting with what had enabled the not-small feat of their stealthy morning outing: “Happy Father’s Day!” they shout. Ezekiel’s head pops up from under a pile of blankets and children to flash me a sleepy smile.

As the two children explain their scone selections to their father, Ezekiel’s wife Gail puts down a tray with three large coffees and turns to me. “You get honorary Father’s Day coffee too,” she intones, mock-ceremoniously offering me a cup. I accept this small gift gratefully, touched. I feel as if the drink has faintly anointed me with the special glow of fatherhood.

I witness Ezekiel’s first Father’s Day in a Philadelphia hotel room, a block away from the Transgender Health Conference that has drawn 3,000 to the city. I surmise that there are numerous others within our community celebrating this first today, one pinnacle amongst the many precious firsts that transgender men experience throughout our gender transitions.

The only corollary imaginable is the joy of a transgender woman on Mother’s Day, should she choose to be a mother, and should she not be unnecessarily kept from seeing her children. She may reasonably consider every Mother’s Day to be celebrating her, including those before she emerged socially as a woman. A transgender woman is always a woman, whether acknowledged by others or not. And Ezekiel, our trans-masculine compatriots, and I have always been men.

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Transgender MS woman charged with murder after Selma resident dies from buttocks injections

From WSFA:

By John Shryock
Jun 17, 2013


Authorities in Mississippi are confirming that the suspect in a Selma resident’s death is now charged with murder after giving the patient injections to enhance her buttocks even though she had no medical training.

The victim, Marilyn Hale, died after the January 13, 2010 medical procedure.

This is the second death connected to the illegal medical procedures of Tracey Lynn Garner, 53, a transgender female who formerly went by the name Morris Garner.

WLBT-TV in Jackson says Garner is now facing two charges of depraved heart murder.

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Ultra Right Wing Republican Marco Rubio argues it should be legal to fire someone for being gay

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